I live in Denver, Colorado. Although I do not care much for the Denver Broncos, because of their current status, Colorado does. They are one home game away from the Superbowl, their offense has broken nearly ever record in the book, and they have one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game calling the shots. It’s safe to say, there is a lot of excitement around the town.
There are a couple of new trendy posts circulating around Facebook today. One of them is a picture of a church sign that has the writing, “God has no favs, but the sign guy does, Go Broncos”. Another thing that is trending, which I haven’t actually taken the time to watch, is a short video clip of a pastor who cut his sermon down to nearly two minutes to get home in time to see the Seahawks playoff game.
A typical reaction to these types of things is calling football in America in idol. I am not denying that. As a matter of fact, football was my idol for many years of my life and it is something I still struggle with today. There have been, in fact, many times I have anticipated church to be over for a good Sunday afternoon match-up or maybe even refused a date with my girlfriend for an intense nighttime rivalry. So, football certainly can be and is an idol for many people in this country.
However, I think our obsession with football reflects something in addition to idolatry.
I challenge you to read any of Paul’s epistles and find an introduction to those epistles where he doesn’t go on and on about how much he loves his churches. Galatians is the one single exception. Every other church and person, Paul goes on and on about how much he loves them and how eager he is to see them and how proud he is of them. It’s amazing.
In Romans 9:3, Paul is actually willing to lose his own salvation if it would guarantee the salvation of his people. How incredible is that? So as I read of this incredible love and longing for the Church, for the Body of Christ, I can’t help but wonder how Paul was able to get himself to love the Church so much.
It would be foolish to ignore that part of Paul’s ability had something to do with his status. He was chosen for a significant and vital role in God’s plan for delivering infallible truth through oral and, ultimately, the written Word. He was an apostle of Jesus chosen by God (Ephesians 1:1).
Paul was used by God in ways he doesn’t use me. For example, Paul was used for miracles as well (Acts 19:11). Paul was able to accomplish things through the will and grace of God that I am not, and I will not question the Potter with His clay.
However, it would also be equally foolish to assume that Paul’s love for his church had no human element at all. With that, I think that the biggest reason Paul loved his church’s so much was because of how much those outside the Church hated him.
Outside of the Church, Paul endured much affliction. 2 Cor. 11:25; 21-33; Acts 22:24, are just a few of many examples of Paul’s hardships. He was beaten, flogged, robbed, imprisoned, nearly killed, and killed outside of church. He was mocked and ridiculed, chased out of cities, etc. He lived a painful and difficult life in the flesh.Church was Paul’s escape. Church was the people who loved him, who didn’t beat him, who helped him, rescued him, encouraged him, prayed for him and labored for him. That is why he so looked forward and longed to be in their fellowship.
It’s ironic that within the church we call our place of worship a “sanctuary”. For Paul, it literally was his sanctuary.
When the question is posed to the American churches, why we don’t love the church like Paul, the answer must be because our lives outside of church are just that good. The Body cannot be laborers for us, protectors of us, healers for us, deliverers for us and encouraging us if we have nothing to be healed from, encouraged to, protected from, etc. Our lives outside of church are comfortable. There is no reason to esteem the Church as something special when our coworkers love us too, and are nice to us too. Our lives are peaceful and filled with little conflict and people who love us so we can never appreciate the Church as being the place where we experience no peace and love significantly.
Of course the Bronco game is more appealing than church.
The solution is not to go pick fights, break the law, and quit our jobs. The solution is to engage in the battle.Be vocal about Christ. Preach repentance. Fight against homosexuality. Fight abortion. Fight Obamacare. Tell people they are wrong. Do as Paul did, enter the synagogue of our culture and proclaim to the masses that they are wrong and are going to hell without Christ.
The more you preach Christ, the more your friends, coworkers and society will turn on you. And the more they turn on you, the more you will love the Body of Christ who is there to support and encourage you.
When we start feeling persecution outside of church, only then will we love the peace of being inside the church. And we will never be persecuted if we are quiet. Paul was very loud.
So, until I and everyone reading this begin to live a life of radical Gospel preaching and condemning sin, the Broncos game will continue to be much more appealing than church.